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Affordable 7/8's for Orchestra?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by bdengler, Nov 16, 2004.


  1. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    The orchestra bug bit me. I've had some new opportunities to play the DB in local community orchestras. I'm wondering if any of you have recommendations on affordable 7/8's basses? I use to have a Jackstadt, which I miss dearly. They're too expensive right now and I'd like to find something more affordable. Your suggestions would be appreciated.

    Brian
     
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Affordable is such a relative term.

    For example, I know that both Christopher and Samuel Shen offer a 7/8 fully carved bass, and each has received favorable reviews in terms of quality and value.

    One might call these basses affordable. Another might call them cheap. I would be very comfortable playing my SB180 (Shen 3/4 hybrid) in a community Orch. So, I have every reason to think a fully carved Shen would perform at least as well and would expect better.

    I know of at least two TBers who gig regularly with Christopher basses. I have played a couple of them. Again, I'd call them a good value.

    It is also certain that there are other basses being built out there to carry house labels that may be suitable for your needs. You just have to look.
     
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have 2 Shens. A 7/8, 800 model and a 3/4 1000 model, one of only 2 made. They are both very powerful and good sounding Orchestra Basses for the price and sound older than they are. Both of my sons are now using them in Community Orchestras along with some older Bass in the section and fit in just fine.

    If you can find an 800 Shen or something similar from them, you will do just fine.
     
  4. Gary C

    Gary C

    Mar 16, 2004
    Canton Oh
    I don't have any experience with orchestra...I'm pretty much a DB newbie. But I've got Shen's willow flat-back 7/8. My teacher has said a number of times that he thinks it would work well in a orchestra...he's complimented the tone of the Shen a number of times.

    I'm not too far from you in Ohio...my son goes to school in Granville. I'm in Canton if you want to try it out some time.
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    To show you how fond I am about the Shen's, I am in the process of ordering my 3rd Bass from them. I have a Martini and Gilkes to play as well as a Morelli in restoration soon to be completed with a 'C' Extension but still, I also want a 5-String in the rack to play when needed

    I am in conversation with Paul at Shen now about my third Bass from them to take about 6-12 months. It will be a 7/8 round back Willow 5-string with the same grade top as my 800 model. I am trying out a 1977 Pollmann Busetto now but would rather not go to that expense for a 1-out-of 4 or 5 Concert usage Instrument.

    I feel that the Shens have a great sound in the Orchestra as I get to hear both of mine along side my Martini or Gilkes as my two Sons use them in one of the Community Orchestras. The 800 sounds quite different from 50-100 feet away as it does when you are playing it. I had my two boys play the Shen and the Martini side by side and the Shen cut thru just as good but without the Italian Tone.. An audience goer could probably not tell the differencd other than the depth at most. I think the Shens have great internal designs with workmanship and materials to go match !....Otherwise, why would I even bother?
     
  6. a. meyer

    a. meyer

    Dec 10, 2004
    portland, oregon
    If you're getting a willow-back Shen, keep an eye on the back. I've seen two of them and they both had several cracks, right out of the box.
    By the way (*ahem*), I have a 7/8 size flatback Shen for sale in Washington. You can see it at www.basschurch.com.
     
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Was yours the new one with the X bracing instead of crossbars?

    Mine will be a Carved Back, not Flat. It will not crack any more than maple will.. Round Backs rarely crack. Flat Backs often crack.. The nature of the beast........
     
  8. I too have the 7/8 Shen with the flat maple back and X brace. It's a nice bass, especially for the price. I would reccomend it as a good second instrument or for the college student needing something practical and durable that still sounds good. But, if I had it to do again I think I would spend a little more and get something with some age to it that would be a little more welcome in the orchestra. Also, I've had a few problems with the instrument health wise, and like I posted a while back the issue of the back starting to cave in (after about six years) is scaring me a bit, because I know it's going to cost a small fortune to tear the whole thing apart and re-brace it if it comes to that.
     
  9. a. meyer

    a. meyer

    Dec 10, 2004
    portland, oregon
    The basses I saw were flatbacks. I think they had traditional bracing instead of x-braces, but I could be wrong. A carved back would probably be more stable; still, keep a eye on it. A new bass should not have cracks no matter how it is built.
     
  10. a. meyer

    a. meyer

    Dec 10, 2004
    portland, oregon
    My Shen did have the X-bracing (and a maple, not willow back), and a more sturdy instrument I will never see. The top has not swelled or sunk at all. The back was a little dished when I got it, but it has not changed a millimeter in five years. I managed to hit the neck a good knock once and it popped out at the block just like it should, instead of breaking. Easy fix. They know what they are doing over there in Beijing.
    By the way, I believe that the 7/8 Shens are Jakstadt copies. Sorry if anyone has pointed that out before.
     
  11. Brian, don't know if your still looking for a 7/8ths but if so, I have a Shen sb200 if you want to try. I've had no problems with it other than an opened seam which is being re-glued today.

    I have also gotten compliments from John Pellegrino (Col Symphony)

    Dave.
     
  12. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Dave, you just got the Shen. Why are you unloading it? Actually, as John would know, I'm having some serious hand troubles. I need to stick with a smaller instrument and a shorter string length.

    Thanks for the message.

    Brian
     
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have a suggestion for you. If you have a solo Bass now you like but the Neck is too deep and string length too loong you can; 1) have a false nut fitted to shorten the string length as long as you keep it to a 'D' neck. and 2) have the neck carved thinner so it is easier to play.

    I hate thick necks myself. This can save you a ton of money getting from a new Bass and have your current Bass custom taylored to your specs as close as possible..
     
  14. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    They are actually based on the Gemunder design.
     
  15. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Yes, Don is exactly correct. Bob Zimmerman, the Rochester Phil principal bassist, had one in town for a while, and Paul took the specs from it.
     
  16. Brian, I didn't mean to imply that my Shen was for sale, just that you were welcome to try it if you wanted to check one out.
    Sorry for the confusion. (I figured you probably were not still looking for a 7/8ths given the hand problems but my reply was a "just in case"....

    Thanks,
    Dave